Less Traveled 2012

Ernie Wiggins

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Make memories at Laurens' Nostalgic Filling Station

Posted 7/21/2011 5:12:00 PM

When you walk into the Nostalgic Filling Station in Laurens, get ready to step back in time. There’s Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Betty Boop, seemingly having a party.

A jukebox sits just across from the front door. Shelves are lined with collectibles from bygone ages – vintage Coke bottles, Betty Boop bobbleheads and Lionel trains, items from the owner’s boyhood.

On the first Friday of each month, the icons are joined by between 10 and 30 visitors who drive their vintage automobiles to the Filling Station to share some memories and make some new ones.

Rich Kuhnel, who has owned the Nostalgic Filling Station with his wife Cindy for nine years, says classic car owners drive in from all over for the Friday night “cruise-ins.”

“One guy came down from the (North Carolina-) Virginia border,” he said. Kuhnel pumps music from the 1950s and 1960s (only American tunes) and sells knickknacks from film and television.

A native of Philadelphia, Kuhnel is an experienced auto-mechanic who is an expert at rebuilding old cars. His beautiful blue 1937 DeSoto is parked next to the two Texaco fuel pumps at the front of the station.

Since 2002, the Kuhnels have stripped paint and varnish, replaced old wood and laid tile, all while holding down full-time jobs – Rich as a forklift drive and Cindy as a nurse. Kuhnel said it was slow and arduous work but he’s proud of the results. They opened the station four years ago.

“It’s really taken off,” he said, smiling broadly.

Folks have used the Nostalgic Filling Station is a backdrop for photo shoots (free of charge) and for weddings (small fee). Shots of the station are all over the Internet, Kuhnel said, and one especially enterprising traveler took a picture of the Nostalgic Filling Station and sold it on eBay for a few bucks.

“They put the address on the picture,” he said. “So that was great.”

If you’re going:

The Nostalgic Filling Station is located at 1110 W. Main St. in Laurens.  For more information click here or call (864) 984-0527.

The Class Car Cruise-In is from 6 p. m. to 10 p.m. on the first Friday of each month. The next Cruise-In will be the Aug. 5. There is no charge.